After 5 PM, I turn into an old man. I usually watch documentaries about WWII on the Military Channel and Channel 35, LA City View.
While watching Channel 35, I caught Connie Martinson Talks Books interview with L.A. author, Sonya Sones, whose current book is a local bestseller called The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus. At first I was startled to see a book show discussing fiction at all; that's a rarity.
As the interview progressed, I became intrigued by the subject matter. Sones has written a novel in verse about facing menopause in LA, combating empty-nest syndrome and coping with the pressures of caring for an ailing parent from a long distance. There's so much fiction about the travails of young women that it's nice to find new work that acknowledges life after 50.
Martinson's show is based in Southern California and this interview had a lovely local flavor to it. Sones even name-checked legendary UCLA poetry teacher, Myra Cohn Livingston, as a mentor. Martinson and Sones charmed me most when both women reached for their reading glasses to read passages from the novel. You never see that on TV. I wonder why Martinson didn't ask Sones why she was wearing a hat in the interview. What's up with that?
After watching the program, I'm looking forward to reading the book.
I leave you with Sones's advice for aging in LA, as shared during an interview with Elina Fuhrman in "Angeleno Magazine":
Three secrets for aging with grace in Los Angeles:
1. Keep your sense of humor.
2. Never look at yourself in the bathroom mirror with your reading glasses on.
3. Install dimmer switches in all your lamps.
Yesterday, KTLA News reporter, Dave Malkoff, dropped in on L.A.'s very own OGs, "The OGs --short for The Old Grandparents--videoblog run by Cutie AKA Barbara Cooper and her grandchildren. Watch as Cutie flirts with Dave and answers his questions.
Cutie offers free advice live on Facebook every Thursday for her "Ask Grandma Anything" segment on the blog.
I love her big glasses. I plan to get a pair when I'm 65.
Yet, I have a lot of affection for her. She's one of my favorite celebrity-train-wrecks and not just because she once complimented my haircut in a Beverly Hills beauty salon. I have come to admire her honesty during her stint on the latest iteration of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." She spoke movingly about how her relapse into addictions was motivated by a need to cope with the symptoms of menopause. I thought that was unusual and brave. She didn't blame menopause for her relapse or mitigate her responsibility for keeping sober.
I considered her story as similar to those of my older friends who tell me their initial bout with the symptoms of menopause left them unglued. They had no preparation for it and didn't know how to cope or seek relief for the memory loss, insomnia, dizziness and headaches.
Dickinson's emotional candor got me thinking about trying to prepare for my own menopause. I've been reading up on symptoms and educating myself about alleviation treatments. Did you know there are up to 34 symptoms? 34?! It's all so confusing. Perhaps that in itself is another symptom.
From the New York Times Economix blog entry, "Medicare to Empty Sooner as Longer Life Spans for Elderly Are Predicted : "As Dean Baker notes, last year's report forecast that men who turned age 65 in 2010 would live, on average, and additional 18.1 years. But the new forecast gives this group an extra six months, to 18.6 years. Life expectancy for women at age 65 in 2010 has likewise been lengthened, to 20.7 years from 20.4 years, an extension of about three months and 18 days.
Predicted lifetimes were also extended for future old people, although the extension that today's old people get was bigger."
Whoa. This is sobering news that I have to plan for now since Medicare accounts may be depleted by then, but I'm glad that men over the age of 65 will be living longer... a whole 6 months. That should stimulate my future senior dating pool a bit.
I love the Internet. Its pan-optic power allows me to observe events as they occur. Take the Divorcee Sale going on right now at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood. It's Day Three of the charity event but is still going on. Shoppers can grab deal at the luxe rummage sale of items purged by divorced women. A portion of the proceeds from the sale are donated to breast cancer charities. Follow Jill Alexander's tweets from the event. A Lanvin gown remains unclaimed...
I think every woman should have a Divorcee Sale, whether or not they married. As I grow older, I find that I need to let go of the accumulation of stuff. It's not just physical accumulation, but also old habits, attitudes, and even vocabulary words. Its amazing how good I feel when I can get rid of an object associated with an unwanted emotion or experience. The adage "out of sight, out of mind" really works.
LA-based Danish actress/model, Kristina Korsholm, ran into a more familiar type of LA Crone, the Silicone Crone, at a recent art opening in Hollywood.
She blogs "The crowd [at LAB ART gallery] was very 'happening' and at one point I almost felt like I was in NYC. But that was until LMFAO walked in the door and I spotted a 60 year old woman in 4 inch heels with double D's and a facelift bumping and grinding in front of the DJ both. Then I remembered 'Oh! Wait, yes we are in Hollywood'."
I know the type. We all know the type, but I'm here to tell you that's not the only way women choose to age in this town.
Nonetheless, when I visit certain L.A. areas such as Brentwood or Beverly Hills, I'm always startled by the uniformity of plastic surgery trends modeled by matrons. Everyone's entitled to having a little "work" done if anti-aging treatments help a person's self-esteem. However, I think it's sad that people accept off-the-shelf looks. If I were to pay so much money for invasive plastic surgery, I'd at least want to look like myself and no one else.
What's up with the cheek implants that make tightened faces so gaunt? I'm glad the collagen lip fad has faded but injecting Botox around the mouth is still too popular. Combined with the cheek implants, the recipient looks like Skeletor.
This New York Times article about the children of elder hoarders really resonated with me. Here's a killer quotation: "
Randy O. Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College, has been studying hoarders for two decades and is an author of "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things." Children of hoarders, he noted, often display a tortured ambivalence toward their parents, perhaps because unlike spouses or friends of hoarders, they had little choice but to live amid the junk.
"They grew up in this difficult environment and naturally came to resent it," Dr. Frost said. "But at the same time, these are your parents and you have to not only respect and love but take care of them. What happens when they get old?""
I am not the offspring of out-of-control hoarders, but my folks are the next best thing: Depression-era babies who compulsively fill store rooms with non-perishable foodstuffs and cannot throw anything away because it may be reused in some way. I used to think my parents were crazy to keep so many items, but I recognize now that it was a survival skill honed during lean times. My sister's late neighbor was a HUGE hoarder who stuffed his Long Beach home with all manner of detritus. Although he died in January, his executor is still trying to clear a path way through all the stuff.
Sadly, unlike the children of classic hoarders, I am not hypersensitive to clutter and envy people who purge their living spaces on a regular basis. I even offered to take any ephemera and publications abandoned at the residence of my sister's late neighbor.
Maybe my parents' compulsion is hereditary after all, like survivor's guilt. Oh dear.
Today's "Who What Wear" style newsletter quotes French fashion minx (and former French Vogue editor), Carine Roitfeld, about the suitability of snakeprint accessories.
"You know, I think as you get older, the snake is more chic than the leopard," Roitfeld told Jess Cartner-Morley in a 2009 after the journalist complimented Roitfeld's snakeskin boots.
At 57, Roitfeld is still one of the sexiest women in fashion. I love that she doesn't hide her age and dresses for maximum impact. Yes, she's disgustingly skinny and may be just as shallow and glib as the industry that she dominates, but she has a certain dirty foxiness that's charismatic.
But I'm not sure Roitfeld's maxim holds water.
Older women exude elan when dressed in any primal material such as fur or prints resembling the skin of animals. Think Mrs. Robinson seducing Benjamin in her own spotted coat in "The Graduate." Up until the start of the vintage style revival in 2000, only predatory, older women showed up on film or TV screens in such outfits. I won't even get into the stereotype of casting older women as the "bad" girl in traditional romantic narratives.
Why do older women look so good in fur? Perhaps it's due to their self-confidence and experience internalizing nostalgic fashion cycles; they know how to wear old styles because they were around when the style was first popularized. There's debate about how much of a wild print a woman of a certain age can truly handle. Some magazines advise older readers to proceed with caution when using the skin-print of the moment and just accessorize the look with a skin-print belt or scarf instead of adopting it from head-to-toe. Other fashion mavens advise the opposite, encouraging matrons to let their freak flag fly.
Who knows...yet this style suits the older crowd.
Taylor Momsen et al. may think they are being bad ass when they wear their vintage leopard print coats but lack that "yeah, I'm wearing fur, what of it?" attitude that Roitfeld and her politically incorrect contemporaries have down pat.
Welch, the power walker, is in great shape at 70 | Mail Online
Congratulations to local food blog, Bon Appétempt. The site received a nomination for "Best Culinary Essay" in Saveur.com's Best Food Blog Awards! Readers really responded to blogger Amelia's hilarious story, with photos, about cooking with her 92 year old grandmother.
Last week was my birthday so I've gifted myself with this new blog about aging with grace in Southern California.
LACrone is my space to record observations about the aging process and the acquisition of wisdom. I'll be posting interviews, quotations, book reviews, photos and observations about my struggles as a caregiver-daughter, crone-in-training and woman of a certain age in Los Angeles, the land of ageless youth.
News about Yvette Vickers sad, solo death hasn't helped my morbid frame of mind. Unfortunately, the discovery of the former starlet's mummified remains is not an aberration here in the world of sunshine noir. Despite the best intentions of friends, neighbors and family, there are plenty of older Southern Californians who isolate themselves in later life. Sometimes mental illness such as dementia forces the elderly to do this and other times it is because they feel invisible to others, who often rush by them without really seeing them.
I want this blog to be an inspiring window on older neighbors who can teach us how to celebrate the passage of time without fear or angst.
I embrace aging but confess that I this was a hard birthday to acknowledge. I've entered the third trimester of my forties and my father died in December. It has been difficult to work up enthusiasm for familiar rituals and holidays; I know that this is a normal part of the grieving process. My father's residency in a skilled nursing facility in Alhambra made me realize that I do not want to live out my last years in Los Angeles. It's not a place for the elderly or frail, despite its vibrant facade and warm weather. The crumbling infrastructure is a menace to the handicapped and the social service bureaucracy is maddeningly overburdened and underfunded. So I'm plotting my escape. I'm on the prowl for an independent-living retirement community, comprised of Elvis Costello fans, in Humboldt County. That should be easy to find, right?
Currently, I don't fear middle-age so much as I struggle to manage it. It used to be that you grew old and that was that. Now you must be more mindful in this age of limitless information and gene-therapy technology; decisions made in your forties will impact your eighties and beyond. Should I take statins so that my vascular system doesn't explode in later years? My friends and I can choose how we want to experience menopause and have babies into our sixties. Yet I'm part of a generational cohort that cannot afford to retire. I'll probably end up working at McDonalds in my seventies so that I can support my own mother who will probably live to be 110: the beneficiary of healthy-living and good genes.
Finally, a word about the blog's title. Wiccans and some neopagans worship the three aspects of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Often called the Triple Goddess, this archetype manifests the three stages of a woman's life-cycle. Although I'm inspired by the Triple Goddess aspect, I've named the blog "LA Crone" with sarcasm and irony. In certain parts of L.A., it seems as if females over the age of 27 are devalued and pressured to hide natural signs of aging with cosmetic surgery, liposuction, unhealthy dietary habits and overexercise. There's nothing wrong with exercising to maintain a healthy body, but the fish-faced stick figures with fake boobs that I see in certain shopping districts are ghastly. Who are the hags now?
I am well aware that today's use of the word "crone" can mean an ugly hag, but I seek to reclaim the word and rehabilitate it on behalf of the many single, older women out there who still have much to enjoy in life despite the absence of a partner or children. A stock figure in European folk and fairy tales, crones were old women who had occult gifts that could either benefit or bedevil a community. This was the outcome of the Catholic Church's propaganda campaign, which was intent on eradicating any sign of pagan ritual or its practitioners, especially older women who still had knowledge of old remedies and practices derived from an earlier epoch. Ancient cultures used to venerate older woman as soothsayers, healers and leaders. Now older women are mocked as whorish "cougars" or fat spinsters. Mainly, pop culture ignores them because they don't fit the traditional narrative. The graphic in the LA Crone banner could be Santa Muerte or the Virgin of Guadalupe. It doesn't matter. She's just a boney woman in sunglasses with a smile, making her Everywoman (eventually) in LA.
PS This is the longest entry that will ever appear on the blog. I aim to keep things brief.